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Good morning! Spending the day in Chanhassen at the MN Speech State competition – wish our kids luck! Here are this week’s currents:

What I’m reading:

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Finally, I get to finish the Hunger Games series! I’ve had the books in my possession for a while, but I haven’t read them because I’ve had so many books out from the library and I felt like I needed to finish those first since they had a more quickly approaching due date. I definitely have to get this series, too.

So excited to read this!

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – I know this book has been on my list before, but as mentioned above, I haven’t been able to focus on reading books that weren’t from the library. I’m very interested to read this story as it was banned from some schools for its discussion of sexual assault – uh, hello, don’t you want your kids to be prepared? Apparently not.
  • Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti – Yes, I know this book keeps showing up on the list too, but I keep having to return it to the library before I can finish reading it. I’m waiting to get it back from the library so I can finally finish it. Still amazing!
  • Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe – I’m actually not reading this for fun, I’m summarizing this to write an article for work with a colleague – however, it’s pretty interesting! It provides a new and logical guide to teaching and preparing curriculum. Any teachers reading this should definitely check it out. I’ll try to let you know when the article is available.

Places I’m shopping:

  • Victoria’s Secret – A week ago, I went into VS to find out the amounts on my secret rewards cards (I had three). I scored $100 off! Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I stocked up on another of my favorite bra and got myself a fantastic deal on my new favorite perfume. $110 for $10. Awesome.
  • Gordman’s – I’ve been to this store once, but I must not have been in the mood to shop because I don’t remember it and it’s definitely worth remembering! I went with my friend last week and picked up a cute headband, a kitty laser toy, and an adorable new purse for only $30. We browsed around for at least half an hour and I avoided buying a lot of stuff that I wanted. I entered into a store sweepstakes, so hopefully I’ll win a $100 shopping spree there.

Come onnn, shopping spree.

  • Target – Ah, the old standby. I’m just pleased because I managed to pick up all the treats for my speech kiddies for a very low price. Nothing beats that!
  • Ulta – I found a new shampoo that I love called Giovanni Tea Tree Treat. It’s perfect for my hair if I skipped a daily shower and smells great. It’s supposedly sold at Target, but I’ve never seen it, so I go to Ulta for my shampoo needs. Plus they always have great deals!

Happenings I’m attending:

  • Speech banquet – At the end of every speech season, the team celebrates at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club with a team dinner. Seniors stand up and say a few words, a few students give their speech, and coaches hand out awards to key students. It should be a great finale to a fantastic season!
  • West Suburban Teen Clinic (WSTC) board meeting – I take notes for WSTC at their monthly board meetings. This Wednesday is their April meeting. I always enjoy going and seeing their new space, so it should be good!
  • Dinner with the family – After cool g-ma died, my mom, aunt, and I set up a monthly dinner to ensure that we would spend time together. It hasn’t happened every month due to time constraints or illness, but it does happen at least every other month. My aunt was in the hospital this month (she’s okay now) so we couldn’t have our dinner on the 6th as planned, but we’re going to have it sometime around Easter. Perhaps Easter dinner?

I'm the one with the mustache.

  • Rachel’s party – It’s my colleague’s birthday tonight! I’m invited to a dinner to celebrate. I’ve never met any of her friends, but she’s awesome, so it should be just fine.

Things I’m looking forward to:

  • Thrifting – My friend and I still haven’t gotten around to thrift shopping – I work weekdays and she works weekends, so it’s hard to find a time when we’re both free for at least a few hours. Too bad thrift shopping requires so much time and patience.
  • May and the return of my normal food budget – As I mentioned in a Foodie Friday post, I have way too much food in my house. And yet, I still spend an enormous amount of money on food. This month, I set up a strict budget for my grocery spending – which I’ve increased slightly now twice. I completely forgot when I went to Winona that I had set up the budget and went a little crazy when shopping with the boy. Oops. But May brings the return of my less restricted budget!
  • Sprummer – Yes, you read that correctly. Sprummer is the very short period in Minnesota that falls between spring and summer. Ideal temperatures, sunny, not yet humid…perfect. I can’t wait to finally get to that short-lived season.

Tulips are perhaps the best thing about sprummer.

  • Hanging out with my lovely former work friend – Tomorrow night, I’m hanging out with an old friend of mine. I haven’t seen her in forever, so I’m super excited. She’s just a ball of joy to be around and we always have fun together, so I’m really looking forward to it!

What’s currently going on in your life?

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Last month, I posted about my favorite fiction books. Although I prefer fiction, I read a fair amount of nonfiction books as well, especially lately. As promised, here is the list of my favorite nonfiction books in no particular order:

Malcolm Gladwell - I love the hair.

1. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell – I just finished this book and I really enjoyed the subject matter. Blink discusses snap judgments and how our brains automatically perceive information. One of the ways Gladwell demonstrates this is through the Implicit Association Test administered by Harvard. It’s a fascinating look at your underlying, automatic preferences. It’s also free – check it out! My only critique of the book is that Gladwell says he’ll teach us how to train our brains to make snap judgments accurately and rely on them, but I didn’t get much of that throughout the book. Overall, I still highly enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading his other works.

2. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne – When I first heard about this book, it sounded kind of cheesy – like one of those traditionally “spiritual” blah-blah-blah books. When I finally decided to read it, however, it really made sense to me. I realized that you can’t really explain the context of the book in a way that doesn’t come across as spiritual blah because we, as cynics, are trained to think that way about spiritual guide books. The only thing I will say about it is the idea is that thinking positively about scenarios – truly believing that you can and have what you want – will help bring it about. This makes a lot of sense to me – our brains will believe what we tell them is true. Take placebo tests, for example – people who unknowingly take placebos instead of actual medicine show increased signs of improvement. Is it foolproof? Of course not. But it’s an interesting start.

This is an example that makes me happy.

3. Postsecret by Frank Warren – I stumbled across this book in Barnes & Noble and couldn’t stop looking through it. Postsecret is simply a community mail art project – people anonymously write a secret on a postcard and sent it in. You would be amazed at what people send in. Some things brighten my heart, some things make me want to cry. In fact, “postsecret” has continued on to this day and become quite popular. There is now a website – check it out.

4. The Single Girl’s Manifesta by Jerusha Stewart – I should mention that I haven’t been single in almost two years. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love this book. It’s actually weird for me to be in a long-term relationship – I was the girl who was always single, whether I liked that or not. This book really helped me appreciate being single and learn to appreciate myself more. It took me a long time to not only accept being single, but also enjoy it. Of course, when I finally did that, my silly boyfriend came along. 😉

This is the old edition I have.

5. Our Bodies, Ourselves published by The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective – This was one of the main books in my Introduction to Women’s Studies class and I adore it. The book discusses all sorts of women’s health topics, such as menopause, childbirth, sexual orientation, sexual health, etc. It was published in 1973 and has improved through a dozen fresh editions. It’s my goal to own the original copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves from 1973 and see just how much has changed. I’m close – I have a copy from 1975 that I scored at a garage sale!

6. Colonize This! edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman – This is another book from my women’s studies course that I absolutely love. I love it because it’s not your traditional white-feminist-from-the-70s book. It’s much more characteristic of third wave feminism, which includes art, music, and as this book discusses, race and feminism. This book contains essays written by feminists of color and discusses how those two crucial ideas constantly entangle. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re at all interested in feminist literature (and let’s remember that when I say “feminism,” I simply mean equality of men and women – that’s the definition).

7. Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath – You may have heard of another book written by the Heath brothers called Made to Stick – I think this one is better. Switch talks about why real change is so damn difficult and how we can go about making change work for us. They have a terrific analogy regarding a rider and an elephant – the rider (our willpower) holds back the elephant (our desires), but there’s only so long that a rider can keep up the strength. Their language also makes it very easy to read, which is essential to me with nonfiction books.

8. The Chemistry of Joy by Dr. Henry Emmons – I’ve mentioned this book before. I LOVE this book. I know I said no particular order at the top of this post, but I lied – this is my number one book. I’ve gotten such great advice from this book. I don’t like having to use medications (read: anti-depressants), although I think they make perfect sense for others (it’s a weird conundrum). This book explains depression and then provides drug-free ways to combat depression – through food, nutrition, exercise, and eastern practices. Dr. Emmons says that drugs are sometimes necessary and helpful, but his methods have allowed me to find natural ways to combat depression. He has also written The Chemistry of Calm for those who suffer from anxiety.

Damn right.

9. Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti – I recently read this book and it is probably the best feminist book I’ve ever read. Ever wondered why rape is so prevalent in our culture? Read this book. Ever wondered if there were a way we could change our culture so that rape is less prevalent? Read this book. Never wondered either of those? Open your eyes to our culture and READ THIS BOOK.

10. This Book Will Change Your Life by Benrik – This is one of the oddest books I’ve ever read or owned. It has 365 things that one “should” do in order to change his/her life. I’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s a satirical book. That being said, it’s kind of amusing to attempt some of these activities, and in fact, most of them really should be done. I just advise against doing ones like “volume test your neighbors – blare your music louder and louder until they start complaining.” If you get through all of 365 days of activities, there are sequels as well.

What are your favorite nonfiction books?

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